The flyweights brought the heat on the main card of UFC 293, with Manel Kape going toe-to-toe with short-notice replacement Felipe dos Santos for three rounds.
While his fight with Kai Kara-France falling through had Manel Kape fired up ahead of UFC 293, come fight night he had newcomer Felipe dos Santos to focus on.
Ex-RIZIN champ Kape was welcoming dos Santos to the octagon after the Brazilian had been lined up for the Contender Series this year — only for his opponent to withdraw from the bout at the last minute.
The flyweights came out firing in this one, with dos Santos leading the charge early. Kape was happy to let his opponent take the lead, as he scored an early knockdown in the first minute. They returned to the feet where Kape landed a few more shots. Dos Santos started a grappling exchange after catching a kick, but Kape was able to end up in top position with a smart reversal. Dos Santos started getting the better of Kape after they returned to the feet in terms of sheer volume, but the cleaner strikes belonged to Kape. Those strikes notably included a spinning elbow that wobbled dos Santos temporarily. Both men were happy to let shots fly as we headed to the second round.
The output of strikes from dos Santos stayed high in the second round, but he was staggered by a leg kick from Kape. Kape darted in with a hard right hand. The kicks and jabs continued to come in from dos Santos as Kape picked his spots. A big left wobbled dos Santos as Kape was clearly dealing more damage. Dos Santos was clipped by a body shot and went to a knee, where Kape unloaded shots. Dos Santos popped back up and fired right back. The flyweights were putting on a show.
Following the first minute of the final round, things opened up again. A double jab from dos Santos was answered by a hook combination by Kape. Kape was rocked for the first time by a standing knee and his defense was more offense. The exchanges continued as Kape skirted away from true danger while absorbing strikes. To cap off a solid performance, Kape connected a double-leg takedown with 20 seconds left. He climbed up onto the cage afterward to celebrate to the boos of the Sydney fans, who were not too fond of Kape after his beef with City Kickboxing at the UFC 293 press conference.
Manel Kape used the post-fight interview to continue his feud with Kai Kara-France, but ended it with the same slur that was used by Charles Radtke earlier in the night.
Manel Kape def. Felipe dos Santos by Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)